Atheists, like Professor Richard Dawkins, are often the targets of hate mail. These are sent to him by people who describe themselves as Christians. What are we to make of it? Professor Dawkins hates God, the Bible and Christians, but does that justify hate mail telling him to rot in hell?
What should the attitude of the believer in Jesus Christ be towards someone who opposes or ridicules the gospel? What did Jesus do in such circumstances? He is the one person who was really ridiculed. He was hated by many of the ruling authorities of His time. Some insults hurled at Him when He was on the cross, were:
- ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God’ (Matthew 27:40)!
- ‘He saved others, but He can’t save Himself’ (Matthew 27:42)!
- ‘He’s the King of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue Him now if He wants Him, for He said, “I am the Son of God”’ (Matthew 27:42-43).
What was Jesus’ attitude? It is written down in 1 Peter 2:23-24, ‘When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.’ That should be our attitude.
- When God, Jesus or the Bible is insulted, we cannot retaliate by condemning people to hell. God is the judge, not man (1 Peter 2:23b). As God’s children, there are areas that are out of bounds for us. One is judging those outside God’s kingdom.
- Not even Jesus threatened those who opposed Him. God wants all people to be saved from hell and come to knowledge of Himself (Ezekiel 18:23). By ‘sending’ people there, we do not display God’s attitude. It is the wrong way to win people to Christ. They will not react to abuse, but will appreciate civil manners. Who knows, maybe they will then reconsider the truth of God’s Word.
Neither God nor Jesus can be affected by the insults of unbelievers. No one can undo the work that Jesus accomplished on the cross. We, as representatives of God, should show Christ’s attitude of love to outsiders (Matthew 5:44 - ‘love your enemies’). Besides that, Jesus warned us that the world hated Him and would also hate His disciples (John 15:18-25). But those who oppose God are very quick to pick up inconsistencies in the behavior of God’s children. That is why the Bible says, ‘God’s name is blasphemed... because of you’ (Romans 2:24). Bruce Wilkenson relates that he once overheard two people discussing a Christian TV personality who fell into sin, and he was amazed that they cursed God. This is what happens when people send abusive e-mails to others who reject Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of mankind: God is cursed and blasphemed.
We need to apologize to the atheists and other unbelievers who understand from the hate mail that we are a bunch of hypocrites who profess one thing (love) and spew forth another thing (abuse). We need to pray for them, not curse them, and ask God’s forgiveness for misrepresenting His character.